Talib Kweli

Ear Drum | Warner Bros.
By MATTHEW GASTEIER  |  August 20, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
insidetalibkwelieardrum
Although Talib Kweli consolidated his place among the underground hip-hop elite with his last two albums, the talented Brooklyn-born rapper hasn’t had a consistent full-length since he teamed up with producer Hi-Tek seven years ago on Train of Thought. Ear Drum doesn’t reach the highs of that far more ambitious and sprawling album, but it’s a welcome return to form. Kweli’s lyrics lean toward feel-good consciousness, but his points are sharp, and he’s confident enough to experiment with flows in ways he hasn’t before, stunting syllables and shifting around emphasis as he bounces over the jazzy rhythms with which he works best. Previous collaborators like Kanye West, Madlib, and Hi-Tek complement him with strong beats; even Will.i.am steps up, notably on the vocal-tweaking “Hot Thing.” But it’s with UGK and the smooth and nice beat on “Country Cousins” that Kweli shines, holding his own next to the Southern kings and proving he’ll be worth checking for well into his second decade.
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